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What is a Full Stack Developer? A complete guide

By Team Multiverse

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  1. What is a Full Stack Developer?
  2. What does a Full Stack Developer do?
  3. What skills are required to be a Full Stack Developer?
  4. What languages do Full Stack Developers use?
  5. Are Full Stack Developers in demand?
  6. How much do Full Stack Developers make?
  7. How to tell if full stack development is right for you?
  8. How to learn full stack development
  9. Start your developer journey

As the tech world grows, there's been a dramatic increase in the need for developers, especially Full Stack Developers.

A Full Stack Developer is a term for developers that can cover a project in and out. But what exactly is a Full Stack Developer, and what do they do?

With this complete guide, we’ll answer all your questions about full stack development including:

  1. What is a Full Stack Developer?
  2. What does a Full Stack Developer do?
  3. Why are they in demand?

By the end, if you’re interested, we’ll also talk about how you can apply(opens new window) for a software engineering apprenticeship and become a Full Stack Developer.

What is a Full Stack Developer?

A Full Stack Developer works on both ends of an application or website—the front end and the back end.

The front end is also called the client-side—what users can see. It includes the layout, UX design, buttons, and other components that create the look and feel of a site or app.

The back end is the server-side—what users can’t see but what makes your product work behind the scenes. Combined, they create one complete product.

Typically it requires a lot of know-how and work from several developers (devs) to create an application from the ground up. Most devs work on either side of the tech stack, while Full Stack Developers act as a ‘jack of all trades’ and can easily switch between both. They sometimes have a few specialties, but can work with both ends as needed.

The demand for Full Stack Developers is growing as software gets more complex, and the lines become more blurred for each end of development. In 2022 alone, nearly 47% of developers surveyed stated they were Full Stack Developers, according to Stack Overflow.(opens new window)

What does a Full Stack Developer do?

Since a Full Stack Developer knows all of the ins and outs of development, they tend to shift between the front end and back end.

They’re an essential part of a development team thanks to their flexibility. They tend to support tasks across teams. Smaller companies leverage the broad skills of Full Stack Developers to create and own their products or assist a small team with their needs on the front and back end.

Some common tasks a Full Stack Developer does include:

  1. Designing and mapping server-side code and databases
  2. Writing clean, proper code
  3. Creating and maintaining an API
  4. Testing and securing an application
  5. Designing and developing user interfaces (UI)
  6. Maintaining and updating an already existing software stack
  7. Use safe coding practices to ensure a secure final product
  8. Ensuring cross-platform compatibility so the product works on all operating systems or devices.

Full Stack Developer tasks can include more than what you see on this list.

Based on where they work and their specialties, they often work on a much larger scope than your average developer. However, this isn’t always the case. Some developers may just work within one of the two development ends. A great Full Stack Developer not only knows client-side and server-side but how they come together to make a working final product.

What skills are required to be a Full Stack Developer?

Like all developers, you’ll need specific tools to get the job done. Being a good developer also requires soft skills. If you are interested in full stack development, these soft skills can help you excel in your career.

Problem-solving skills

The most crucial skill any developer can have is problem-solving. Without it, you’d be unable to do the core function of the job: identify a problem, and code a solution. Problem-solving helps create smooth, practical solutions to complex tasks. It also helps if you can manage workflows and break them down into smaller, more manageable tasks.

Time management

Full Stack Developers should also be comfortable with planning and time management skills. Because developers often have to handle different workloads, they need to properly separate their tasks into bite-sized chunks. A good developer should also be able to complete tasks without spending excessive time on each one.

Continuous learning

A Full Stack Developer needs to have a wide range of knowledge. As a result, staying up to date with modern technology and architecture is important. As tech moves to the cloud, it is crucial that you have the skills to work with cloud services like Microsoft Azure and Amazon Web Services. You’ll also want to keep up with emerging technology like GraphQL and Microservice architecture to stay relevant.

Research and analysis

Finally, Full Stack Developers need to be able to research, analyze, and learn as they grow. In a generalist role, you may need to hunt down information from resources like Stack Overflow to troubleshoot issues. You’ll also need to take feedback and analyze your code to make sure it’s efficient while making data-driven decisions.

What languages do Full Stack Developers use?

Full Stack Developers need to learn and get comfortable with front end and back end programming languages.

For front-end development, you’ll need to know how to build visual elements with HTML and CSS to create a good-looking UI for a product. Some knowledge of JavaScript or PHP is essential here to connect the web page with the API and the backend.

As far as the back end goes, the list is a bit longer. Languages like JavaScript (specifically Node.js), Python, PHP, and C# are all common for back end architecture. Along with those, knowing how to create and manage a database is essential, so some version of SQL is needed too.

Are Full Stack Developers in demand?

Absolutely. Full Stack Developers continue to be in demand, with plenty of employment opportunities.

A recent US Bureau of Labor Statistics report also showed that the job market for Full Stack Developers will go from 135,000 to 853,000 by 2024.

Because Full Stack Developers are flexible and can easily fit into any workflow, companies want them. This is especially true with startup companies since they often lack the staffing to have specialists.

How much do Full Stack Developers make?

While external factors like location, experience, cost of living, and specific fields impact compensation, we can get an idea of the average full stack web developer salary.

According to Glassdoor, the average full stack web developer makes around $88,000 per year, not including bonuses. Entry-level developers can look to start their career at around $45k-$65k with less than two years of experience.

However, as we said before, there are a lot of factors involved with this too. Location means everything, as the cost of living in your area will dramatically affect your salary. A developer in Silicon Valley, CA, will make substantially more than a developer living in Atlanta, GA. But as we see wider adoption of remote workers, this too can change.

Experience is another major factor, as your knowledge and skills will always come into play. Leveraging skills to learn popular technologies such as AWS or Docker can be a major bargaining chip when negotiating a salary.

How to tell if full stack development is right for you?

The easiest way to tell if you’ll enjoy being a full stack web developer is whether or not problem-solving is a skill you’ve mastered. As a jack of all trades, you’ll need to be able to see and analyze a problem and find the best way to solve it.

Along with that, you’ll need to make use of other soft skills too. For example, communication, organization, and patience are all key parts of making your life easier as a developer. Without them, you’ll find yourself stuck and frustrated when your code doesn’t work.

How to learn full stack development

The beauty of coding is that anyone can code as long as they keep at it. There are many online resources to get you started coding, from the basics of HTML and CSS to complex topics like databases and containerization.

However, there isn’t one perfect way to become a Full Stack Developer. You can learn any way you choose, as long as you can get the basics down. Here’s an example of a great path to becoming a Full Stack Developer:

  1. Learn front end. You need to start somewhere, but if you’re entirely new to coding, front end is a great starting point. Starting with HTML, CSS, and JavaScript is a perfect combination to get you used to front-end development, web pages, APIs, and basic programming logic.
  2. Start on the back end. Now that you’re comfortable with JavaScript a little, this is a great time to look into Node.js (a JavaScript back end framework) or potentially learn a new language like Python or PHP. Get used to seeing how the two layers can interact, especially with an API.
  3. Get used to databases. Whether it’s SQL or NoSQL, they’re both vital to add to your skill set. Of course, SQL databases like PostgreSQL or MySQL are more popular than NoSQL databases, but they’re still relevant to some industries.
  4. Learn Git! Keeping track of your project’s code between changes is vital, especially in a work environment. Mastering a version control platform like GitHub, GitLab, or BitBucket can go a long way in your professional career.
  5. Put it together. Make some projects! This is where you’ll shine, trying to make something on your own. You’ll need to combine everything you learned to succeed here. Use resources like Stack Overflow and Google (yes, you’ll be googling a lot of simple stuff we all do) to overcome challenges. In the end, you’ll have a portfolio piece you can take and show employers.

Start your developer journey

Developers have been in high demand for decades and won’t stop anytime soon. It’s never too late to learn, and coding is one of the most accessible jobs today. Full Stack Developers, in particular, are the most in-demand, thanks to the flexibility and broad skillset that they bring to a team.

If you’re interested in starting a new career, Multiverse is here to help. We offer world-class apprenticeships, where you can get started and learn on-the-job skills without a college degree. So start your new journey today(opens new window), and check out our software engineering apprenticeship to see if it’s the right fit for you.

Team Multiverse

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